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Industry news: August 2009

Hanson UK is NOT up for sale

Opencast coal mining, BGS©NERC

Hanson UK, a division of HeidelbergCement, has confirmed that it is not up for sale. HeidelbergCement will retain the UK–based aggregates, concrete and cement operations, whilst selling the building products division. HeidelbergCement announced in May that it is aiming to sell £1.7 billion of assets to help pay off debt relating to the purchase of the Hanson Group in 2007 for a total of US$14 billion (£7.8 billion).The businesses being sold include: a brickwork contractor (Irvine Whitlock); an offsite construction firm (Structherm); a block paving manufacturer (Formpave) a block manufacturer (Thermalite); and Hanson's brick business.

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Galantas increases gold production by 65%

Galantas’s Omagh gold operation, Northern Ireland, BGS©NERC

Galantas Gold Corporation, which operates the open–pit gold mine near Omagh in Northern Ireland, announced its financial results for the second quarter (April to June 2009). Production increased to approximately 1977 troy ounces of gold, 5972 troy ounces of silver and 90.4 tonnes of lead.This represents a 65% increase in gold production compared to the second quarter of 2008.

The information may be viewed at: [No longer available]

The British Geological Survey releases the Cobalt Commodity Profile

Download the Cobalt Commodity Profile

The Cobalt Commodity Profile, the latest in this series from the BGS, is now available for free download from MineralsUK. Cobalt is of strategic importance to the high performance alloys (‘superalloys’) industry and also forms a significant component of rechargeable batteries. This minor metal is due to be traded on the London Metals Exchange in the near future.The Cobalt Commodity Profile includes a summary of the geology of cobalt deposits, methods of extraction and processing and analysis of production, trade and prices. Alternative technologies and recycling are summarised, and there is a focus on Britain.


Patrick O'Shea takes over as MPA Chairman

Patrick O’Shea, Chief Executive of Hanson UK, will become Mineral Products Association (MPA) Chairman for the next 2 years from 1 September 2009. He will be taking over from Lynda Chase–Gardener who has been Chairman of MPA since its inception in March 2009.


MPA calls on Government to reverse cut in public investment

Rotherham Sand & Gravel’s Scrooby quarry, South Yorkshire, UK, BGS©NERC

The sales volumes of aggregates, cement, asphalt and ready–mixed concrete fell sharply in the second quarter of 2009 as the construction recession intensified. Compared with the same period of 2008, the sales volume of crushed rock aggregate fell by 29%, sand and gravel by 27%, cement by 32%, ready–mixed concrete by 37% and asphalt by 27%.

MPA Executive Director Simon van der Byl said “These are awful numbers and the market decline we see in 2009 will be the worst since records began. 2009 is also likely to show the biggest annual reduction in construction output in the post WW2 period and the lowest number of housing starts since 1924. In these circumstances, Government should be planning to sustain much needed investment in our infrastructure and public services to underpin the economy and utilising the huge spare capacity available in the construction and materials industries and supply chains. Instead, the Budget set out a 50% reduction in public net investment over the next four years.”


Government to appoint Chief Adviser on Construction

House construction in the UK, BGS©NERC

The Government plans to appoint a Chief Adviser to Government on Construction to equip Britain's construction industry with the skills and knowledge to become competitive in the 21st century. The adviser will chair the Board responsible for securing value for money from the Government’s procurement of construction, promote innovation and sustainability in the industry, and be responsible for ensuring Government takes full account of the impacts of the regulatory regime on the construction industry.

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The British Geological Survey releases the UK Minerals Yearbook 2008

Click to download the United Kingdom Minerals Yearbook 2008

The United Kingdom Minerals Yearbook 2008 is now available for free download from MineralsUK. This annual publication by the British Geological Survey provides comprehensive statistical data on minerals production, consumption and trade to 2007, estimates of production for major mineral commodities in 2008 and a commentary on the UK's minerals industry during 2008. It is of value to all those interested in the many facets of Britain's minerals industry and its contribution to the national economy.


Holcim profit falls as markets remain challenging

Aggregate Industries (Holcim) Croft quarry, Leicestershire, UK, BGS©NERC

Holcim is one of the world's leading suppliers of cement, aggregates, ready–mix concrete and asphalt. It holds interests in around 70 countries on all continents. As a group, Holcim reported a significant reduction in the sale of cement (10.2% reduction), aggregate (21.6%), ready–mixed concrete (18.2%) and asphalt (25.9%). During the first half of 2009, there was no sign of an economic turnaround and demand for construction services declined again in North America as well as in Western and Eastern Europe. While the poor start to the New Year was largely attributed to the hard winter, construction activity during the second quarter was depressed by a lack of investment activity.

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Green light for Cheshire waste fuelled power station

Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, Nottinghamshire, UK, BGS©NERC

A new 95 MW power plant capable of turning 600,000 tonnes of waste each year into electricity and heat is to be built at Ince in Cheshire.The electricity will be used to power a new Resource Recovery Park. Excess electricity will also be exported to the National Grid. Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Hunt said: “We need to increase our use of renewable energy and to find solutions to the UK’s waste problem.”

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Life Cycle Assessment of European Industrial Minerals

Photomicrograph of kaolinite crystals, BGS©NERC

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data on the major European industrial minerals is available from the Industrial Minerals Association (IMA) – Europe. LCA is defined as the “compilation and evaluation of the inputs and outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle”. Datasheets are available for calcium carbonate, talc, silica sand, calcium bentonite, kaolin, feldspar and plastic clays. The study, including the datasheets and a report on the LCA methodology, was commissioned by IMA–Europe and carried out by Ecobilan (part of PricewaterhouseCoopers).

Source: [No longer available]